Too old to risk buying unripe bananas

If, like me, you are sick of hearing that sixty is the new fifty and fifty is the new forty,  then fear not – for I come bearing glad tidings: ninety-nine is not the new anything. It’s just very old and very precious.

And I should know, I’ve just spent a lot of time with some real oldies at my mum’s 99th birthday. It got me thinking about old age and writing. And there is no shortage of  candidates – from Mary Wesley who started writing when she was 70 to David Lodge who still writes well into his eighties and in his latest novel Deaf Sentence has a very endearing elderly main character in professor Desmond Bates.

There are also plenty of older authors writing about old age, like Norah Ephron who goes for the jugular in I Feel Bad About My Neck and her latest brain teaser – I Remember Nothing.  But it is hard to top Diana Athill, who at 90 wrote her expose on growing old – Somewhere Towards the End, in which she talks of (amongst other things) a declining interest in sex. Say no more!

Inspired by all this bounty, I offered to fetch my mother some new reads from her local library. She smelt me coming a mile off and lifted her large print saga quite defensively. On its cover was a winsome lass dressed in plaid in the arms of a bearded laird – set against a background of soft lavender hills, with a little croft and its lazily smoking chimney. “Don’t get me any of that newfangled stuff” she said. “I’m already old and it’s not that interesting!”

I was quite taken aback. If old people aren’t reading the books that I was recommending, this begs the question – who is?

That’s when I told the group of oldies that I would blog on this. It proved to be more difficult than you’d think to explain blogging to the hard of hearing and technologically naive.  But this is it Ma, a blog – and I wrote it just for you!

By the way, the headline is a quote from a character in a Stanley Middleton novel.

The Queen of Crime – and theatre – Dame Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh, centre, directing Hamlet in 1958
Today is the anniversary of the death of crime writer and theatre legend Dame Ngaio Marsh. She died in 1982.


Read more about her life, find books she wrote, or just marvel at some of the photos in our collection.